NEWLY appointed Golden Square coach Chris O'Sullivan is ready to roll up his sleeves and begin the task of rejuvenating the Bulldogs' netball program.
O'Sullivan is one of two key netball appointments at Wade Street as the Bulldogs look to start their climb back up the BFNL A-grade ladder.
He will be joined by new director of coaching Teigan Redwood.
O'Sullivan will not be coming into the job completely cold or without an appreciation for the tough task ahead.
He coached the Bulldogs in a handful of A-grade games at the end of the 2023 season, following the departure of Benita Swatton.
O'Sullivan can already see progress, with the club on the verge of announcing some exciting new recruits, headed by a young, but well-established goal shooter and another goaler and midcourter with BFNL experience.
He is hoping the club's trials, the first of which was held last Sunday, will entice a few more recruits to fill some obvious gaps on the roster.
"I feel that after our first trial, we've got a great foundation group that will certainly make a point come the start of the season," he said.
"There were a few girls, who have come in from out of town and are moving to Bendigo, who really proved their worth on Sunday.
"We are definitely coming from a long way back, but I'm confident I have filled a couple of pieces of the puzzle.
"With the team we have so far, I'd like to say we can turn some heads. But we are in a rebuilding phase.
"It's great that there is an understanding from the players we have recruited that we are not going to win a premiership in the first year or even the second, but they were still willing to come over and help rebuild the club and bring it back to its former glory."
Of those already in the system, O'Sullivan said Daisy Stringer and Keira Lawry, both members of this season's 17-and-team which finished third, would step up and 'have a huge impact'.
O'Sullivan was encouraged by the response to the Bulldogs' first trial.
"It was a lot more successful than I expected," he said.
"We are missing a lot of height, but the skill-level is leaps and bounds above last year in relation to being able to field both a competitive A and A-reserve team.
"I'm determined to make sure we have the right values and make sure that what we do, we do as a team, as opposed to having those two or three great players who go out and try and win the game for their clubs."
O'Sullivan brings with him plenty of technical and on-court experience and knowledge.
Raised in Bendigo, but having lived in Melbourne for the last decade, he has represented Victoria in both men's and mixed competition, winning a championship with the men's team.
He has also represented Australia in mixed netball, making a name for himself as a goal shooter and goal keeper.
O'Sullivan has been involved at Golden Square in recent years as an umpire and this year assisted with the 17-and-unders before embracing the role as caretaker A-grade coach late this season.
He is keen to repay the club's faith in him.
"I am really passionate about coming in and helping the club because they have been very passionate about me and my umpiring and getting me involved," O'Sullivan said.
"The club put a bit of trust in me at the end of last season and I'd like to think it's paid off for all of us."
A definite attraction of the job for O'Sullivan was the opportunity to work alongside newly appointed director of coaching Teigan Redwood.
The current head coach of the Bendigo Academy of Sport netball squad and a key figure in the establishment of the new Bendigo Strikers VNL team as a board member and secretary, Redwood joins the Bulldogs with years of playing and coaching experience with Calivil United and Sandhurst and at VNL level.
She will oversee the development of both the Bulldogs' playing and coaching groups.
The pair are no strangers to each other.
"I actually played my first (mixed) nationals against Teigan. We were both in two separate Victorian teams and she certainly showed me how to play netball," O'Sullivan said.
"She played on me and absolutely annihilated me and made me realise that if I was ever going to make it, I might need to go back to defence and be a bit more versatile.
"But I also played alongside her in the Melbourne system, so Teigan and I have known each other for quite a long time.
"I feel mine and her values and mottos align, which will be a really good stepping stone for the club.
"Player welfare is something we are strong on, not only on the court, but in how we can help the players off the court to help them realise their full potential."
After the success of last weekend's first trial, the Bulldogs will hold two more over the next two Sundays (November 19 and 26) from 10am to noon.
O'Sullivan issued an open invite to anyone seeking to further their netball.
To register, click here.
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